Information is key to changing today’s fisheries practices for the better. Here, you’ll find reports on seafood certification and bycatch, press releases, and more.
We assessed the effectiveness of fisheries certifications by the MSC. Our finding: MSC-certified fisheries are generally doing well in reducing seabird bycatch. Read more:
Our “Sudden Death on the High Seas” report provides an evaluation of the extent of the seabird bycatch problem and possible solutions.
The Agreement on Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels is the foremost international agreement bringing countries together to reduce threats and to ensure the future existence of highly migratory albatross and petrel species.
ACAP takes a comprehensive ecosystem approach to management, dealing with problems on several fronts at once. This means that if a species is in trouble, the responsibility to protect it does not fall on just one sector; instead, the responsibility is shared.
Since opening for signatures in 2001, ACAP has achieved an international commitment to protect albatrosses and petrels from 11 signatories and 9 ratifying countries. The United States is not as yet a signatory to ACAP, although it is a leader in safeguarding seabirds from fisheries.
We at ABC continue to encourage the country to sign on: In this capacity, the United States would be able to bring its expertise and leadership to bear with the power to vote, lead working groups, propose amendments, and influence the future of the agreement. This would give us an opportunity to help develop international standards for interactions between seabirds and fisheries.
The fish marketed as “Chilean seabass” is actually Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), often caught in southern waters by pirate fisheries that use no seabird bycatch mitigation and smuggled the fish into U.S. and other markets.
This is a long-lived, deep ocean fish that is being over-fished to the point that the fishery is likely to collapse within a few years. Many parts of the southern oceans home to this species having already been depleted to the point where they are no longer commercially viable.
Although a convention now exists among countries to try to conserve the fish in Antarctic waters, the fish is also caught further north where the rules do not apply.
Not only is the fish itself threatened due to this fishery, but thousands of albatrosses and other seabirds are being killed when they are hooked and drowned by longline vessels pursuing toothfish.
Up to 333,000 seabirds, including 67,000 albatrosses, were killed between 1997 and 2000 in this pirate fishery. Some of the species involved are threatened with extinction as a result.
Some U.S. stores, including Whole Food Markets, have stopped selling this fish out of concern for fish stocks. Because it is impossible for consumers to discern between fish from pirate and regulated fisheries, we have called on retailers, restaurants, and consumers not to purchase “Chilean sea bass” until the U.S. government can assure us that all imported toothfish is from sustainable, regulated, legal fisheries, that do not harm albatrosses and other seabirds.